Digital Property Rights


This week, the Game of Thrones caused quite a stir, and for once it wasn’t just because of who did or did not die horribly (although he did, and it was.)

In the day following episode 2’s airing, 1.5 million people torrented the show. At one point, just shy of 200,000 people were participating in the torrent simultaneously, a new record. Though there are many reasons why people are torrenting this show, including the fact that it isn’t available to watch in every country, there is one contributing factor that is particularly near and dear to my heart.

Let’s face it. Torrenting isn’t hard, and is getting easier all the time. The genie is well and truly out of this particular bottle. Some people do it because it is free, and others do it because it is easy but it is a third reason that seems most persuasive to me: because when you download the files you actually own them.

Recently a woman was told that the books she purchased on her Kindle did not belong to her. According to the terms of use you are not buying a book, but a conditional license for said book, and one that they can take away for any number of reasons.  While I think that $10 dollars is often too much to pay for a digital copy of a book, it is certainly too much to pay for a long term lease. This is the main reason I don’t buy digital comic books. If anything the policies of those publishers are even more fragmented and draconian than Amazon’s.

Marvel is taking a step in the right direction though, with their netflix style offering. For $69 a year, you can have unlimited access to more than 13,000 comic books. When my life is a little less busy I plan on trying out this service.  I will of course let all of you know what I think.

There is a place in this world for owning and renting of course. I have no problem with either model. It is this hazy middle ground of we-sold-this-to-you-but-really that gets on my nerves.

This entry was posted by David Winchester.

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